Friday, December 7, 2007


Written in 1989 Published in 1992, this is one of my favourites from that period - a genuine sense of gratitude to voices that came before me. It is also a genuine snapshot of the arrogance of youth, comparing oneself without guile or self consciousness. The older, humbler poet is amused.
It's also a reaction to the insistence of tutors that all creativity is inevitably limited by
culture and place - I argued for the transcendence of verse, rooted in cultural context.


I am the Child of
Plath and Ogawa
but only by adoption

My life is the result
of my struggle
and I have no cultural parents

Alta my mentor
sings my digust to
the stars

I am the child, but
I am learning to sing
for myself

Thank you mothers
but forgive me
If I never use one word you have taught me.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Saturday, November 10, 2007


A flicker of amusement
lights the pallid face
of the young man
in the grey suit
with sandy hair; subject of
a nondescript description.
He finds it slightly cheerful that
his boss, who is
a tyrant among slaves
and rabbits
is older/vaguer/paler
than he.
In this, this decay of a man
resides his fondest hopes
and sweet desires.
Such noble cause, such noble man.


Friday, November 9, 2007


I think that perhaps that far distant year has come; I know I can think of this old friend only with affection and withotu regret, only wishing well, and remembering the best. I hope somewhere he can do the same.

For Pat.

half conscious and half true
has become like breath to me
I cannot even know myself
and you,
you are like a new found land
stranger than my dreams.
Holding you
I know that I am safe;
but only for seconds.
You escape me and I do not know
if this is chance or just
the way we are.
Your voice I listen for
amid the babble and the crush
in which we live
and when I think or when you
give, some proof
of caring
I quickly find some sign
our lives weren't meant for
sharing or for love.
Yet still I know that
you are somehow mine;
I think in some far distant year
you will think of me
and I of you
with knowledge
If we do I hope that fear is fone
and all that will remain
is memories of laughters
wild nights and stories sadly told
and heard
between two trusting friends.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Thursday, November 8, 2007


A poem from my party days; when we would drink til midnight, attend the Gaiety Jazz club til 3 am and crawl to Kaffe Moka's for tuna melts. As I worked Saturdays Friday nights out had a strange and disturbing effect on Saturday workdays.....


hurriedly dressed and tousled
stale eyes, stale inside
caught in the clammy sweat
and churning stomach
of a hangover
in a state of vague paranoia
everyone I meet
is a familiar stranger.
My mother's voice
a recurring distraction
to the all-important task
of staying vertical,
praying for deliverance.
The day outside
a glowering stifling blur
too loud, too fast.
I wander through the place
lost in self inflicted misery
with pitying glances from passers-by

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

At Harold's Cross

This is a poem from the "Dublinia" cycle; and I can tell you the exact date it was written - 23/6/92. In some rare moment of organization I actually dated the piece of paper I scribbled it on.
The cottages are still there, at Harold's Cross, all but uninhabited and awaiting the fell blow of the developer's fist. It seems fitting to post this now, before they disappear forever.

At Harold's Cross

There is
in Harold's Cross,
quaintly decaying in a set,
four cottages of antiquity and
mildewed gloom;
two-roomed, tiny
infested by cats and old people
shadowing beside the damp park
and public toilet; a florist where
brightly bunched carnations hustle
with the hearts and diamonds of the funeral
wreaths and spill across the street on Sundays;
a Church of Ireland church
grey and gothic spired,
with a cemetary beside
and a gatelodge for the graveyard -
all crevices, and sepulchred doom.
I often pass , staring down from the
window of a bus,


Friday, October 26, 2007

"Vive le Roi" in spanish!

How lovely!
Two beautiful languages, and intriguing for a poet to read words she wrote, in a language she cannot speak, but can recognise the rythm, feel the sense behind the words....


Thursday, October 25, 2007

At work, My Grandfather

This is the eulogy for my grandfather I wrote many years ago; strictly speaking I don't consider it Juevenilia but it comes chronilogically around this time so I've included it. The first four lines are the Epithet writeen for him by Fr Herman Nolan CP and are inscribed on his gravestone.

At Work, My Grandfather.

Scent of Incense, Glue and Varnish Cease;
Perfect O Lord, thye instrument of Peace.
Fr Herman Nolan CP

I saw my Grandfather at work,
bent. He was old by then
and whitehaired, my father
dark and upright.

I watched the old man
handle wood like it was
his lover; all his tenderness
and poetry in the making

of a single rib - to
play Eve, I suppose
to some Violin.
He had Pianist's hands

like a lady's at the tips
but hard and calloused
at the palm. He used to
work, in the fields at

Summer and at Autumn
and he had cleared land
himself and stood shirtless
in the sun

And worked through the rain.


Now he was where he had belonged
in his own father's place;
his craft he plied, to my child's
eyes, with consumate grace.

I smelt the incense
and he told me the glue
was jelly - that was the story
I have always remembered.

The image of him frail
in gone from my mind;
of his time with us in sickness
i remember only that

mammy and I once cleaned his room
and I sat on the stairs
and cried, when they said
he had gone, and meant "died."

But I remember
I saw my grandfather at work
in a room, surrounded by
shavings, and the smell of wood and glue.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Vive le Roi

Oh dear, oh dear oh dear..............

Vive le Roi

Four stone walls of thought
and one lock
without a key
that's all it takes to imprison me
and my own thoughts a host of
which reside, like kings
inside my head
and the all white cheerleaders
jump jump high
vive le roi
the enlightenment is dead.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Beauty at Dusk

The room is stilled
dimmed by evening light through
shuttered blinds
A perfect evening, summer spring
treees laced with early leaves
bright fields, sunlight on windowglass
an empty room
and silence

the brightness of the dusk is
blinding - more glaring than noon in dust
and the silence splinters with shrill throated birds
and distant laughter
til the laughter and the song seem silent too
part of the peace that oppresses this room

the beauty is too perfect
too real for me
it has too much force
a coat of light and long shadows
Exotic; it intrudes.

geraldine moorkens byrne


Saturday, October 13, 2007


This was written about a friend in college who went from being pleasantly spikey in first year to bitter and hard in third. By the time I signed up for my postgrad, she was a loose canon creating havoc with people's emotions. Too young at the time to fully understand her behaviour or the insecurities that fuelled it, I realized reading this that I had nevertheless understood somewhat. I often wonder what became of her, I suspect she subsided from dangerous to petty as time wore on though I hope she got some happiness out of life. The title wasn't an insult by the way!


She's tired of reminders that life
could be worse
She's sick
of well intentioned pushes
of being propelled, unwilling
t'ward the grassy verges

Her dumbness
mutes her cries of pain
(because I cannot hear I do not care)
Screaming inside her head, she stubbornly
down the gravel raods
she shudders at the lengths ahead
I hear
they die sometimes of starvation

I wonder how far she got
nursing angry standards
bitter ideals
I wonder did she ever find her past.


Friday, October 12, 2007


Lately he has thought of past moments
of childhood's stolen hours
of sneaking past the guardians of his age and sex
and holding to the innocence he felt once
was worth the loss

But if his heart should wander
where will it go?
What is there for its sweet enduring hurt?
What went before, is gone, was never reached and is no
and all paths returning stand in silence-


Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Trouble with Clouds

I acutally remember writing this one. In the "new" library at UCD, 1987, studying for exams. I even know what I was thinking about when I wrote it! Of all the ones I found this is one I quite welcome though!

The Trouble with Clouds

If flat clouds, like airships, hover broad
in the air,
should fall
and touch the earth,
which would melt?

Would I care?
do you?

It seems to me more pertinent han the budget
more necessary near than May and
all it brings
to know which clouds the angels sit on.
If I look away from the trees, will they stop
growing and will their leaves wither?
are they fodder for my brain or am I
manure for their souls?
Both. (I think)

Ah Lear! Come in out of the rain.
If every word is wrung from a poet's head
does that make them true?
Accuracy is next to godliness. I thought
you knew.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne 1987


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Juvenilia, As Promised

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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This article is about the literary term. For other uses, see Juvenilia (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with
Juvenilia is a term applied to literary or artistic works produced by an author during his or her youth.
The term was first recorded in 1622 in
George Wither's poetry collection Ivvenilia. Later, other notable poets, such as John Dryden and Alfred Lord Tennyson came to use the term for collections of their early poetry.

As promised the beginning of the Juvenilia collection

Your Touch

The warm smell of
sleep and heat
surrounds me with your
quilt, your bed
my hair spread like down
across your pillow
and drowsy senses


Friday, September 21, 2007

Temple in the Park

San Francisco, one evening in June....................
Posted by Picasa


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Five Senses: Smell

I open the press under the stairs and it hits me. I turn the pages of a book or open an old handbag; sift through letters or reach into the furthest Narnian reaches of the wardrobes and it assails me; the rising smell of must.

This is my life packaged away, hidden in dark corners. I have consigned entire years to the dark, in yellowing paper and scraps. I have seasons of clothes too small, too large, belonging to a different woman – shadowy and incomplete. There are chapters of books, unwritten and notes never posted, all the roads not taken I have carried with me through the years and hidden until they are stale and fetid, unaired.

Emptying this room is like an examination of conscience; there is grave discomfort in these old things. Last year’s birthday cards are fun to see; those from age thirty are pinpricks of regret; from twenty five, screams of loss and rage at wasted years and lost opportunities. If I try on clothes too small I wish away a thousand meals. If they are out of date and shapeless, I feel guilty at the waste. Even half used tubes of makeup accuse me. I sit in a sea of loss.

Every item has to pass or fail a simple test: is it needed? No more room for old dead things. Papers burn or are shredded. Even in destruction they fill the air with the smell of decay. Clothes in plastic sacks, shiny black coffins holding uniforms of work and play. The atmosphere lightens with each section cleared, the air freshens as the hours pass and the open windows blow away the dust. I lessen the load I carry through life, the bags bulging with redundancies; a skip waits in the driveway to mercifully enclose these things, hide them from sight and consign them to earth. But here and there I hesitate, hand hovering and my mind seeking excuses. That is the letter from Australia, can I not keep it? Those are the shoes I always meant to wear, so glamourous, can I not find a space for them? I could leave that rug outside and kill that musty aroma; maybe someday I could find a place for it?

I think of my destination- two double bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen – and you. I cannot find room on this journey for these items. Ours is a little house, fresh and clean and newly painted. I will not risk bringing it with me, the lingering hint of the past, in folds and shards. I know enough to know that no matter how careful one is, that cloying stench will out. I won’t risk the smell of flowers and coffee, of a smoke-free zone and dry cleaned cushions, for a half page of scribbled words or a tee-shirt last worn in ninety-two. The is room there, but for the things we need, or like to share; for the useful and living and brisk. Not for the poor broken lost things, the one sock and the dried up pen, or the almost empty lighters.

So I breathe deeply and remind myself, they are gone already. Now it’s time to bury them and leave them.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Irish poetry Blog

Check it out, an excelent and poetic blog on the fight to save tara among other things.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Moving on...

Currently in the throes of moving house and therefore clearing out a small mountain of papers; I have found so many different old papers and have scribbled poems and writings and the start of about five different stories.
I am going to gather them together and print them up here, not because they are any good, but becasue they are different. I was amazed at the different voice that came through in these poems, a much younger voice, in some ways more imaginative but in many ways more limited and pretentious. There were elements I really liked and elements I absolutely hated and there were some truely cringeworthy moments as well!

So I'll start posting them up from next week; as ever any and all feedback and criticism is invited. And a virtual pint for anyone who can guess what age I was when writing any given piece :)


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Some poems published online...

A pleasant surprise this month, both Scriobh,com and the excellent PLT ezine have published my poetry under featured poets.


Saturday, August 4, 2007

Editing poetry....

Every four weeks or so I have the (enviable? dreaded?) task of reading and choosing from other people's work (for an online publication). This can lead to a bizarre clash of perosnal sensibilities over objective discrimination; but in the end all choice is subjective, never more so than where poetry or art is concerned. I find myself relying on instinct a lot of the time; although experience has taught me to recognise poems that while I may not find them terribly exciting, will interest or move others.

Mostly though one needs to go with intuition, with a subconscious recognition of an indefinable "something" in the work. I beleive that poetry should (whether it is narrative driven or image based) interact witht eh reader on a level that evokes response, emotes, creates ambiance, conjures pictures and feeligns. Some of the best examples bypass the rational mind completely and hit the soft spot in the brain that makes us react to beauty.

I love and dread reading other people's poetry, when the choice is to publish or not. Equally I dread people reading mine with the same objective in mind. I am humbled and bewildered when people accept a submission - when they actually solicit a poem I love them, instantly and unconditionally.


Friday, August 3, 2007

Poetry Life and Times August

Poetry Life and Times
Great new edition for August! *

Edited by Robin Ouzman Hislop

This months edition concentrates on the theme of Climate Chaos and Earth’s Revenge.

*(and I'm not just saying that cos I am in it lol)

I have three poems viewable there: Territory, The Murder of Cliona and Angry Rivers

There is also an interview with a poet I admire, Ian Thorpe and other great poetry.

Check it out!
It's a great Ezine and really deserving of support so get over there and read. It also has a new interactive section including news, blogs, polls etc.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

At Table

At Table.

I sat with you
at table. Among friends
we broke bread
and your hand reached for mine.

Sup wine from my cup,
steal sweets from my plate;
All good things I have
I offer to you, serve them up.

Are your cheeks flushed?
or is it candlelight and fireside -
the heat of the hall?
or is it my touch, cooler than air...

I sit beside you
at table. We are blessed
in each other and friends
and joined by merry words.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne
(I am building a selection of "love poems" some simply poems of love others poetry about love and the condition we call love. This is one of the former, a simple and truthful poem.)


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lugh Among the People

Lugh among the people.
Deliberate, in measured steps,
approaching the great circle
leading the people to pray, with the sound of brass trumpets;
Priest or Poet, calling us each to his own, filling our hearts
with the beat of a bodhrán and the sound of the pipes made of thorn
I am the dancer, lost in the rhythm of nature, dancing on the edge
of the world, swinging out over chasms of infinity
lit only by the icecold stars.
Singing a song I heard somewhere
mourning the loss of a woman
of infinite love. I am the Creator of words.
I am the Fiddler. I am the moment when Summer ends,
yet still the sun beats down and the Earth yields.
I am the paradox, of Autumn beginning.


Ingmar Bergman Obituary

Obituary: Ingmar Bergman

Ingmar Bergman's films tackled profound questionsIngmar Bergman, who has died aged 89, was known as "the poet of the cinema....Full Story Here


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Emotions...false starts....

One thing that bugs me - when i write passionate, genuine emotion "in the moment" it reads back to my ears at least as trite, over sentimental, false etc. whereas the poems readers respond to the most seem to be the ones that are filtered through some distance, written at a slight remove or expressing emotion "sideways" through metaphor etc they're the ones that people feel a more emotional response to. Not that I'm not grateful lol for any positive response from readers! but one of these days, though, I'll crack it :) I'll write a searing piece in the very moment of passionate emotion and it'll work :D!


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Gerard Manly Hopkins Festival,

The best Literary Festival in Ireland.

The 20th International Hopkins Festival promises to be the best yet.
Internationally, it will offer its widest range of visitors with 24 countries represented from Japan to Slovenia, Russia to Sardinia.
Best also in its range of activities:
Our Art Exhibitions are a special feature and this year will include works by Brian Bourke, John Behan, Edward Navone (USA), and others.
The Classical Music Concert will take place in Moore Abbey and feature the piano of John McCormack.
The Traditional Irish Evening this year will feature a group led by exciting new talent, Malachy Bourke.
We are the only Summer School to offer a specially tailored Youth Programme geared to students. Some scholarships are still available. Apply immediately.
A special feature of the Hopkins Festival is its emphasis on Workshops in the area of Creative Writing, Writing Songs and Music and Translation. Each activity is led by noted experts in the field. Early application advised.
Lectures by internationally acclaimed speakers including Ian Ker (Oxford), Aleksandra Kedzierska (Poland), Lucas Carpenter (USA) etc.
Poetry Readings include noted writers from around Europe and some leading Irish namessâ?
There will be Field Trips to Newbridge, Dublin and Maynooth University.
One of the highlights will be the presentation of the O’Connor Literary Award to Japanese scholar, Hikaru Kitabayashi. This will take place at a special celebratory Banquet hosted by Newbridge Silverware.
Add to all the above the Festival Club every evening with performances, plenty of singing and the opportunity to get to know other participants over a convivial drink or two.
The Gerard Manley Hopkins International Festival is unique both for the quality of its participants over a wide range of activities – and for its special atmospherein the context of the beautiful small Irish town which the great English poet, Hopkins (1844 – 1849) described as "one of the props and struts of my existence".
Download our 2007 Newsletter at
Here, you can also check out latest updates to our Advance Programme.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

This of Small Virtues

This of Small Virtues.

There are things that endear you to me,
strange items that hang in a wardrobe or
lurk on shelves, shyly advertising you.
The books on weight loss, gathering dust
beside fantasy and sci-fi, testements to your
all too human frailty; the books on
love and self, incongruous in a male library
besides the Cosmos and Relataive physics.
The way you embrace science and all
the oddest facts of our tenuous existance on
this planet; where you maintain mankind are
monkeys in jumpers, but you are openhearted
towards magic and the unexplained.
These are the unresolved equations of your nature
secrets that ambush me as I tidy away, or unpack bags
riddles to the sweet core of your nature
open only to me, only here, in our home.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Swan

All angular beauty
and ruffled lines
curious in approach
white breasted downy apparition

Closer to your beauty
than before; allowed approach
a temple of wonder
your unique glory


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Green Party On

In a week that saw the Greens enter power for the first time in their history;

Green Party On

I walked Tara as a child
on ramparts ancient paused,
while parents stared at vistas far beyond
our youthful minds.

They were from a generation
far different from our own;
not for them the instant or the undeserved,
unearned reward.

Now matrons move their children
to the sticks, to mix with others
in surburban bliss, sans roads and schools
and infrastructure.

The chattering classes sit on
their ass and talk about recycling;
while sympathizing with those who would
bulldoze Tara.

The Green voter pledged to Save
Tara, til they smelt power and
in that moment turned to establishment
and economics.

Converted to Mamon
and to Progress, our most devoutly
prasied god in modern Ireland, sans Heritage
or pride.

Party On Green Men. Pary
while they destroy six thousand
years of dreams and literature and history
and sanctity.

Move to Meath, with your SUVs
and flood the rural scene with stress,
you'll be unmolested by men of conscience, not
in Ireland.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pooka in the Summer Sun

A pooka grazes peacefully
where the river
meets the sea
In the ruins of a castle,
watched by me.
A moment of enchantment
where the city meets the green
and I enjoy the magic
as I watch, unseen.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Politician in Private Society

One of my favourites, this is a light hearted piece inspired by a chance encounter at a private party with a man then at the height of his power in the country; I was fascinated beyond words by the effect he had on the would-be urbane and aspiringly sophisticated! I doubt the salons of Victorian or Edwardian london could have boasted a better Lion than he prooved to for day that's in it tomorrow......

Urbane he stands, a figure
shaded among gay and vibrant souls
"Dear Sir," his hostess flutters,
murmurs her thanks at his august presence.

He is a figure aloof,
wreathed in smiles and honour
impenetrable fortress of power
graciously unbending to the public eye

It is all we can do to speak
his eye holds us all in thrall
hypnotising with its knowledge
Each uninitiate to the halls of government.

He knows we fight
to keep from staring, touching,
pressing against him as a talisman
a living totem of the forces of opinion

Tomorrow we will casually
lightly boast, disdainful of him
remarking on his public image
delightfully dismissive of his private face

But for now, here and now
in this moment, we are all
swooning at his word and faint
for signs of his good opinion, gracious favour

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sunday at the Temple, Music

To Joe and Mark:

I went to worship
at a Temple of Music
(a sub branch on Dame street
Catering to the Urbanite congregation
and our nostalgic pounds)

Molly Ringwald smiled at me
from a giant screen
while Andy McClusky sang.
Touch me once, Touch me twice;
I was transported.

Joan of Arc took up arms
before the pain of Enola Gay.
Ah! Sunday night standing, swaying
praying, to the gods of time and space -
More, More, More.

Joe and I discuss the
merits of tranquiliser guns
Giants stand before us,
on white powder; slipping. While
My love sings to himself, nineteen again.

I worshipped at the temple of music
I danced through 18 years in a drumbeat.
We laughed as we sang as we cried
as the gods on stage thanked us,
transformed us, blessed us.

OMD Olympia Theatre; May 13th 2007


Friday, May 11, 2007

John Cooper Clarke

We went to see John Cooper Clarke in Whelan's on Wednesday night; hard to beat. It was excellent in spite of or perhaps because of the unrelenting stream of appalling old jokes

He gave a trip through memory lane with classics like Beasley Street and the updated new version Beasley Boulevard. An engaging and thoroughly affable performer, Clarke is an object lesson to all those poets who feel poetry readings should be serious affairs, with every word enunciated in droning, affected tones. New material was excellent and the crowd when offered a choice began to call for more of it; Clarke seemed mildly pleased that his newer poetry was as well received as the classics. Still there were no shortage of requests for Chickentown or Twat although the repeated calls of "twat twat!" from behind us made a few of the uninitiated a little antsy. Oh okay, it was me, i didn't know it was actually a title of one of his poems I just thought an unusually harsh critic was in the joint!

A great Poet, a great night, a great gig - do yourselves a favour and get to see him, travel if necessary, but see the man.


Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Power of Poetry

Poetry can seem like the hobby of dillitantes - what use is it, if not simply that of adornment? Yet poetry can express, move, protest and motivate. It can also comfort and help.

Kevin V Moore, and american poet writting under the name of Merlinbeag worte this poem for a young girl, Rhiannon, who is not well. This is poetry at its purest in my view - universal and personal, intimate and yet a testement to our commitment to strangers; our link to those we do not know and may never meet.

Rhiannon is undergoign treatment tomorrow; people will be joining together to pray for her today. Light a candle in honour of Saturn at 41.19pm 9.38pm and 2.57am. Or pray in your own way. Light a candle online at

For Rhiannon

The Dragon has attacked you.
We all have dragons,
in differing degrees of reality.
This time it’s real.
So much so, that you
wonder who it is that
they talk about
in hushed voices.

The first and the worst
thought, is to believe
that you are alone.
Like the cinematic vassal,
when the message comes,
I will drop my axe, or hoe,
and come to you,
along with my tribe.

Because we believe
in goodness.
And those I know
to be good,
have told me that
you too, are good.
And that’s good enough.

Marching with the rest
of my rustic electronic
village, we will
come to you
in your time
of need.
And that is how Dragons
are slain.



Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Prarie Poetry Ezine

Prairie Poetry Ezine is one of my favourite poetry sites. Its remit is narrow enough, prairie poetry not sounding exactly universal, however the range they publish each month manages to be surprising and innovative. A classic example of transcending the rules, producing something that speaks to oursiders as well as the initiated.

I love each new edition, and it's well worth looking at! The May edition is up favourites by far are Arrogant Bones by Larry Schug and Jacob Is by Brwyn Harris.


Saturday, April 28, 2007


Yield you say,
to me, yield soul
and intellect and thought.
I cannot. Generations
bid me stand, withhold
remain aloof and intact.

You want me to
sink into the mire of belief
unthinking, quiescent,
flacid of mind
laid out at your pleasure
revelling in surrender.

I demand consort, equality
divine responsiblity
sporting and sparing
a hunt for reality among
the illusions and lies
that is my heaven.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne



The fire burned low, so that it was only embers in the hearth, and still we sat side by side. It was our wedding night: outside our new home, neighbours still whooped and hollered; games were played, the men were rough on Poitín and the women flushed with envy and desire. And still we sat, like wax dolls in our finery, my dress like a shroud around my feet, tripping me up if I walked, pulling me down to earth so that my whole body felt filled with mortality. If I glanced at you – not often in my shyness – your hand was always at your collar, strangling you into respectability.

The time drifted by and still we sat. Limbs trembled from exhaustion and anticipation while eyes sought refuge in the sinking flame. You coughed nervously. I thought with relief you were about to break the awful silence with some ready jest, the kind of smiling tease that had made me first look at you. Instead you shifted in your seat and sank back into taciturn reproof.

Where was my Jamie, where was my man? When we walked in lanes in summer, you picked dog roses and put them in my hair. Let others sneer at our lover’s clichés – I pressed them that night and tried not to hope that your handsome laughing face meant more than to turn my head, that your words, so quick so witty, meant more than fools gold. Where was my laughing boy, who carried me over a stream in winter, strong arms around my waist, swinging me over mud and laughing at me fright? Had he run away, frightened by this stern man with shuttered eyes and hands that were so still, resting on his knees as if in church? My Jamie would not sit in silence.

I stared into the fire and remembered; long hot summer days, your hand in mine, dry skin rough calloused by work; your voice rising in excitement. How many fields, how soon and for how long, the cow from O’Ryans, the money your father left you. I let the words wash over me, only dimly aware of their meaning, these words in this place, spoken between man and woman. Your home, your mother's plans, your prospects - oh! You laid them out before me like a cloth of gold, like rippling fields of corn in August. My heart took flight when I realised the grave nature of your talk, that I was divine in your eyes and beloved.

Now we sat like mourners, in the night: bound by enchantment and rooted to the cold flagstones. Did you look at me and marvel, at the cold composed line of mouth and the pallor of my cheek? What did you think, then, of the girl you called your little bird? Did I look like matron of the parish, impossible to imagine in mirth or in anything but disapproval?

The fire stirred and the crumbling coals settled. Far out in the night an owl called and the wind sighed gently through the eaves. The candle guttered and you stared at it - you turned your head and tilted it towards the shuttered windows, as if you were listening for some sign, some token that would reconcile us to ourselves. Whatever the object, it worked - you turned to me with a face suddenly relaxed in the dying light the first glimmer of a smile creasing the corners of your eyes. Without warning the blood rushed to my cheeks, and tears to my eyes. You reached across and softly touched your finger to my lips. I caught your hand and clung to it. The dark fell at last as without a word, the silence of our vigil was broken.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Library Thing - New site

Check out this wonderful and addictive site

my own list is It's going to take a loooong time to catalogue my books but hey it's a new hobby....

One can also feed to a blog, see below.

Thoroughly enjoyable!


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Contest

Part of a series on friendship, this poem may seem oblique in its refernces but it has a very simple premise, that moment of triumph over someone who traditionally has played the dominant role. Sometimes this can be innocent, often less so - we have mixed feelings towards those friends we allow into our lives but with whom we have fraught or resentful relationships.
That soft underbelly of friendship, the slightly unhealthy range of emotions in particualr in long term relationships with others, who hald keys to parts of ourselves and remember us at times we might prefer to forget....that is the unifying theme of the Frienship poems.

The Contest

At last I have won;
My wits against yours
my worth weighed,
yours found wanting.

Over dramatic? yes
but oh so sweet -
a victory plucked
from your defeat.

Old friend, forgive
me my gloating tone.
Remember I have tasted
ashes for you, alone.

I have waited eons
to rise once above you
to be the sole voice
soaring, sounding true.

I am petty, I know
but old friend, you often
broke my heart
time without end.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Presents of Mind

This is a poem I wrote for my niece and nephews; it was inspired by the reaction of these canny little people when Aunty managed to give them presents not entirely approved of by Mammy. Yes, they got the sensible clothes presents but they also could rely on at least one "bold" present, something they wanted that was flashy, plastic and a complete waste of money. Except of course that it was money very well spent, when I saw their faces....

Presents of Minds

I bought wrapping paper from the street sellers,
the best stuff, cheap and bright;
for I remember Christmas mornings,
peering in the early half-dark-
the light reflecting off the tinseled wrap;
so that right away I knew the provenance of the gift,
that someone young and lively, with no parental claims
(who could care less if the gift were educational
who would rather die than buy functional)
had bought that garish glitzy useless precious
plastic packaged piece of commercial tat
my mother wouldn’t buy on principle and
my heart would swell with joy and I would bless her name
as, now my sister has become the mother,
her children breath prayers of thanks
whenever wrapping paper holds its sway,
For Aunts and all they stand for.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Thursday, April 19, 2007



Standing stones, standing like stone
carved in stone,
You are patience, endless endurance
hard as granite,
I have stood in your shadow and cursed
you are silent,
I have blessed you for your dark shade
you are nuetral,
I wonder what it is awaits you,
as the years pass,

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Originally uploaded by charlesbyrnemusic.
Lovely plump friendly ducks....strolling around grand canal square this morning. I managed to take a series of photos, this one being the closest they'd let me get. It's s sight that makes me happy of a morning! between the ducks and the swans I'm going to miss that area later in the year when we move....


Friday, April 13, 2007

Sweet, I kiss your lips

Sweet, I kiss your lips;
it is a way to say those words
the words we say so often
but cannot say enough.

Sweet I kiss your lips
to transfer from my heart to yours
the feeling that you bring
of joy and love.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sunshine in April...

Is there anything more encouraging than sunshine in April? It's just late enough in the year to make us all think we'll have a lovely summer and early enough not to panic about spare tyres and wobbly bits.
One of the many sources of inspiration I have, and one of the most important is our heritage and history. Another, on a personal and less cerebral note, are my friends and family and last Easter Sunday I managed to combine both. Three of us made a trip to the Rock of Dunamaise near Portlaoise:

Beautiful place, seen at its best on such a lovely afternoon. We sat on some rocks and discussed the 1916 Rising, Countess Markievich and what we'd do if we won the lottery. Two people extremely dear to me, and a sublime afternoon - days like that are lucky and blessed.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Originally uploaded by charlesbyrnemusic.

Glorious morning! when sunlight
illuminates and informs, the rebirth
of bloom and leaf.

Like fire, this yellow warms my soul
gladdens my heart while quickening the blood -
Spring rising fast.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Thursday, April 5, 2007

Poetry News...New Widget and New Flickr Group

I've added a widget to the sidebar, as featured on Blogger buzz: it'll show up to date poetry and writing news from around the world! check out today's stories....
I've found a great group on Flickr Poetry and Pictures International : it's dedicated to something i have been experimenting with this year, image poetry or as one of the discussions on the group has it "phoetry" or "poem -photos" or "poem pictures" - excellent stuff!
There are some incredible images and some wonderful poems and both are well worth exploring, inspiration awaits you. It did take me about four attempts to figure out how to use the group properly but they rather nicely forgave my bungling and pointed me in the right direction.
If nothing else, I find writing poetry to images sparks the imagination, and makes exercises in poetry writing a lot more enjoyable.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007



Light and dark at play
across the dappled water
I hear the frost break
underfoot, like glass.

Horned and hooved, pawing
at the frozen ground, antlered.
Lowering crown, challenging,
playfully I think. A forest Pan.

Breath suspended in tendrils on
icy air; we stare transfixed.

Reluctantly, you turn from me
relinquish me, to the gathering dusk.
Darkened skies pass across the plains
and rain turns to snow in the forests.

All trace gone except in my minds eye
and the grand look of your own.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Saturday, March 31, 2007

Inky Girl! this is the best thing ever....

Some of the funniest cartoons ever, especially if you're a writer :D check it out, but do yourself a favour - don't go look at it til you have a spare half hour or more because you'll get addicted in nano-seconds and end up reading for hours.


Swans and Chimney Stacks

(Swans sail out into the morning sunlight at the Dockside)

Only in Dublin
would two swans
crossing the docks
greet you in March

Light reflecting
refracting the image
of urban life
and city living

hazy sun and
smokey stacks
a tall ship mast
and two wild swans

Welcome to my city
21st century

Welcome to my city
Viking terrority
mystical land
mysterious port.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Originally uploaded by charlesbyrnemusic.
I find inspiration in various things; in the light as it hits the water on a cold spring morning in March; in the juxtaposition of nature and urban development; in the cold clear air. Senses are important to me - feelings can beome tastes and smells and thoughts can manifest as sights and sounds.
Walking through the city I never fail to marvel at the beauty of the place, its energy. I cannot nuderstand the blindness of poets who can write about spring buds in emadows but neglect the panoramic majesty of a city.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Originally uploaded by charlesbyrnemusic.
A gull pauses on the edge of the newly created waterside plaza in the early morning, march 2007

Against dappled light
on water's edge;
between the world of men
and that of wing and wind
walking a line


Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs

Do not awaken slumbering beasts;

They are guarding secrets

Deeper than you know.

Do not provoke their interest

or you will flee

before the reddened eye and bared teeth.

Sleeping Dogs guard the gates of hel

and feast upon the arrogant or unwary soul -

Who fears not the past, is a fool.
Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sheep Create New Poems.........Wooly headed grants committees

Woolly writing creates new poetry

A North East writer has been given a grant of £2,000 to use sheep to create random poems, which also utilise the deepest workings of the universe.
The money has been provided by Northern Arts for Valerie Laws to create a new form of "random" literature.
A North East writer has been given a grant of £2,000 to use sheep to create random poems, which also utilise the deepest workings of the universe.
The money has been provided by Northern Arts for Valerie Laws to create a new form of "random" literature.

Shoot me now.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Smoke Rings

Smoke rings

In haste
smells and sounds are punctuation
to the sermon.
Drifting lights, like
smoke, smudge the
in haste.

And You stand,
Your hand upon my shoulder.
I inhale your scent and almost weep
for fresh spring mornings and the taste of autumn-
You have taken me from the bustle,
You have restored that most bittersweet of senses-
You have stirred in me the embers of lost hope
And in remembrance I burn incense,
for You
have kissed me from my drugged sleep
And in faith
for You,
I leap.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Madness of The Woman

The Madness of The Woman

You see black
I see a spectrum of invisability
the myriad shades of the dark rainbow
like the spread of raven's wing
under the yellow mellowness of an Autumn Moon

You see rain
I see diamonds of potential crashing
soft tears of heaven salty with life
worlds contained within, the moment of creation
plummeting toward earth to burst open into growth

You see mountains
I see the slumbering form of beauty
curvaceous limbs caressed in silken folds
breasts marked by the fall and rise of shadows
ropes of silver rivers binding Her to us

You hear the wind
I hear the Song that called us into being
undulating notes of power, secret cadences
voices lifted, speeches spun, preayer uttered
all human history and earth's in one voice

You see only what you want to see
I see all there is to be seen
You think the world can be reduced to numbers
and you call me mad?

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

On a road, in Wicklow

Originally uploaded by charlesbyrnemusic.
This is what I love
driving along we meet nature
fufilling her destiny
despite us.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Bridegroom

Recent events (getting engaged) and a chat with a fellow poet and soon to be bother-in-law reminded me of another short story - well, very short story, rather more like a fragment - that I wrote. This was last year, and like many stories came to me more or less complete leaving me only the task of trying to get it out and into words before it simply vanished. Usually I lose the race; occasionally I manage to keep up and very rarely I win. I'll leave it to ye to decide which where this particular story is concerned....I am reasonably happy with it myself.

The Bridegroom

His name is heavy in her mouth, not yet bitter but a little sour with unfamiliar syllables. She listens as her elders speak, turning the name over and over until it makes some sort of rhythm in her head. She pulls at the grass under hand, squating on the edge of the circle, head on one side. She keeps as silent as she can, in case they see her and send her away. It is her future they are deciding, she reasons, it is not fair to exclude her.

If her voice cannot be heard, then she could at least make use of her ears. However she knows that if her mother's eye alights on her that argument will hold no water and she'll be sent away to sit with her cousins and be silent.His name is thrown from mouth to mouth, now lightly and now with weight; sometimes attached to a "yes" and sometimes to a "no".

Her heart beats faster with each opinion advanced: she likes the way her grandfather shakes his head. He thinks she is over young and that a match made so early may be repented. Events can change, he says sagely. Everyone nods at this. She shudders at her Aunt, who is forceful and has a name for persausion. Her Aunt talks about family ties and property, about good matches and cows, linking marriage and livestock in the same breadth. His name is bartered against the future, a hostage to the winds of time and change - will there be years of good crops and regular rains? will they still need his people as friends and allies?

Old eyes peer into the possiblities: old hands try to feel the shape of things to come. Her own name flutters here and there, but almost apologetically, as if her role in it all was faintly embarrassing. As if security and prosperity should not be purchased with such a little thing as she.His name is said at last with finality. At the beginning other names had been mentioned, peppering the discussion as counterpoints to the main theme.

Now only his name, a recitative, the motif of the day, sounds from every lip in turn. Her skin prickles and she feels cold. His name is now linked to hers. A name she can barely pronounce. Her own name, once so light and airy, prettier than her sisters' names, a joyful name - now has an anchor tying it to earth. Her name used to soar like a small bird, or flutter inevery passing breeze like a ribband. Now his name catches it, holds it down, lends feet of clay to her happiness.

She creeps away, to sit alone.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

British Book Awards

The british book awards are taking votes for various favourite authors in different categories: popular fiction rewarded by the public. You can vote for authors as diverse as Ian Rankin, Terry Pratchett and Marian Keyes, so go over and speak up for your favourite book or writer whether its light hearted fiction or serious literature.

I've never got the elitest fear of popularity. Marian Keyes writes better books than many a clever, literary pretender. Terry Pratchett has created a whole new world, one which frankly surpasses this reality in almost every point :). While we need "serious" writers, the John Boyne and Iain Pears we also need those who teach us something while we smile and escape. I've learnt more life lessons from Rachel's Holiday and Granny Weatherwax than from all the clever heartless prose I've read over the years..


in morning mist

Originally uploaded by charlesbyrnemusic.

In morning mist
and just before the day
awakens fully to the noise of man
stand on the brink
of some windswept shore
and think of me.

Stand and whisper
the name you called me
when you and I were heavy with sleep
and sated, in our bed
and in that moment
call me to you.

I will come,
in the kiss of wind
or the sudden flight of gull
I will never refuse to answer your summons
if I have to fly
from the world beyond.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Wednesday, March 14, 2007




was the spear shaft
spiked in my soft flesh
with anger and with fear
and I first heard the word

after were many spikes
Cranogs and fences,
ramparts and causeways
pinpricks that tore
perforated the completeness
of my soul
and many voices shouted

soon after
deep scars
gashes across the face of me
a million hands all grabbing
all tearing
all shouting

All using part of me
my sacred communion
throwing me like offal to pigs
drawing lines through my
all building boundaries
all enslaving me
all claiming me,

I contemplate
spinning out of orbit
into the ice-cold rind of space
into the red-heat of a burning sun
into the wasteland of eternity
and when their shouts have silenced
point at the endlessness of time
and tell them


©Geraldine Morrkens Byrne


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A riddle for today

Happiness is not a cuban cigar

not today

Happiness is Belgian Chocolate

and diamonds on a left hand;

Can you hand me happiness?

I doubt it

but I wear it on my hand. That

is my riddle for today.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Thursday, March 8, 2007

From the Secret Diary of a Capitalist

From the secret diary of a

The girl on the bus
looked normal
’til she fixed her eyes on mine
and solemnly assured me
that the end was nigh. So
with a sigh and a
muttered excuse
I once again changed seats.

This is why I drive. The
much maligned isolation
the experts beg us all to overcome -
within my jaundiced heart I find it a
sweet boon and comfort.
Why throw myself upon the mercy
of the world
or seek comfort in the kindness of

Yes, strangeness. It’s odd to want to climb across
the seats,
reach out clammy hands to touch the
of others. Daytime pundits of a warped
charity, back off, you living dead.
Armed with every half baked theory of Armageddon
and the reason why
Aliens want sex with earth women.
News flash, kids, I don’t care.

I want my car back. I want
to sink into cushioned seats
and listen to my radio
and change gears with reckless
glee – and pass these sad people
at bus stops on rainy days-
oh, and guzzle petrol and emit
and generally be me.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Cliona by the Shore

This is a poem in the Filí tradition; the code within it is accessible to anyone with the time to read a few sagas and perhaps have a look through the Key of Solomon: it's one I never bother explaining. People seem to find their own meaning in it; the meaning it has for me is intensely personal which makes it amusing that in its obscurity it seems to be one poem others find universal!
Available in the Where the Hazel Falls Anthology

Cliona by the Shore

I let myself in
with the key of the kings and
wrapped red ribbons
around my poor head.
‘I thought you were dead’ said
my mother.

I fired up at this and she waved me aside
‘I merely remark’ was her only reply

I heard on the news that the Temple had
I am aghast at their simple faith
And men search their words
For slivers of meanings
shards and remnants
of a truth they will hate
‘you came home too late’, says my mother

The debt I repaid is burning a hole in my pocket
For the cruelty of martyrs is mercy.

The wet grass smelt sweetly
Giving me courage
I willfully left there
and drove to the ocean
but none of the fishermen
put out to sea.
‘Are you leaving me? ’ asks my mother

I smiled in return and released her to fade.
For I am the prophet of beauty decayed.

We dwell by the shore now
And bless the white thimble
The rue grows around us
like weeds on a grave and the favour still warms us
in cottage or cave
‘We’ll save the world later’, my wise mother says.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


There Are Scratches Now

There are Scratches Now was inspired by a friend's fractured relationship with her mother. Growing up in the shadow of a woman who was beautiful and famous but devoid of warmth left its mark on my friend but her escape from that burden was calmly and couragously undertaken. She found life and creativity in imperfection, in embracing the mess and chaos of life rather than the sterile preservation of self so beloved of her progenitor.
To me this poem is not simply about that, but about the excape we all make as adults in order to mature; the movement from reliance on others' experience to the creation of our own, and the inherrent risk therein, that we will screw up and fall down and abandon perfection for fluidity, atrophy for movement.

There are scratches now,
tiny imperfections,
like the laughter lines of a supermodel.
Mere creases, hints of age.

The mirror you so carefully polished
that we as children coveted like gold-
the one you hid away in a black silk wrap-
it’s out now and used.

I feel I should apologize .
Your shade, long departed, haunts me
each time I see childish hands
brandish it in glee.

It meant so much to you.
Don’t get me wrong,
it meant to me, a multitude
as well.

It was you, your beauty,
reflected in a prism.
It was forbidden, the out–of–reach,
The untouchability of you.

I have given it away,
To your enemies, the young.
I have thrown it into the arena
to live or break, as it will

They have no respect,
Kids nowadays.
They are not easily impressed
By shine and glint.

Yes, it has scatches now
And tiny imperfections.
They were gained in the service
Of life.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Night Chorus

This poem was inspired by nights in Roundwood, Wicklow; watchng the crows and rooks perform their nightly ritual, the "black breasted flight" of dusk.
When searching for a metaphor to represent that emotional moment, the laying to rest, the cycle that drives us forward, night to dawn, this image, burnt into my mind over incalcuable summer evenings took over.
As it did, it carried the poem into some areas of its own
The gravel paths of the interlopers/ darkened by the cloud of dark wings/ stirred by the shadow of the future /The reminder that death precedes life/

Currently available in Where The Hazel Falls
Anthology of Modern Irish Verse, Electric Publications

Night Chorus

Across the last plains
under leaden skies,
the ground peat-brown beneath;
Turf cutters pausing to point
at the summers last black-breasted flight,
across the dark eddies and whirlpools,
the silver line of the river beneath;
Over the wild heathers of the stone hills
from the Cairns of the west
to the graves of the silent east.
A black sunset, the death of a new day remarked.

Shrill and defiant in calling
the passage of the long evening mourned.
The gravel paths of the interlopers,
darkened by the cloud of dark wings,
stirred by the shadow of the future.
The reminder that death precedes life,
The smoke of the fires rising slowly;
the wheel of the wing on the turn.
The veil drawing over the midlands,
the song of the night slowly silenced,
the call of the dusk borne away.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Saturday, March 3, 2007

Behind Me, The Lights of the City

Behind me the lights of the city: (story)

Behind me the lights of the city: before me the brooding blue-grey shape of the Little Sugarloaf. In a way I was trapped.

Once out of the sprawling metropolis, away from the outlying industrial estates and brutal housing schemes, the mega-malls and cinema-complexes, as the road begins to wind and climb, a spiral path of enchantment into forests older than the oldest cobble on the Trinity quad – there am I in my innocence, climbing into the hills; clawing my way from the grey and the concrete, my own county fading behind me to a carpet of fallen stars. And before me in my mind a soft verdant country lush in it’s welcoming. But how to get to this soft green heart: untrammelled by the grey ribbon, the thread of mundanity binding me to the daylight.

Hurry! Dusk is falling, twilight dying, night approaching. What do I do, where do I go? If I stay on this road I hit Stepaside next, out of the county and on to Enniskerry. Next stop Sally’s Gap. Sally’s Gap is a wilderness too far for me tonight. The endless rolling hills and the far-reaching vista across the great plain of Ireland holds no charms when coupled with a dark night and a road barely wide enough for one car.

No, I want to stop: I want to get off this damn road. I want to walk in a forest at dusk smelling the wild garlic and Star-of-David. I want to listen to the last flight of the rooks, towards their nests, that evening transgression warning the innocent and the pure to retreat before the wild and free. I turn in a daze only half realizing the sign “ Coille” – forest. The car crunches over gravel, tires making a satisfying and definite bite into the earth. The deserted car park, all woodchip and faux rustic fence complete with stile fashioned from barbed wire, a wound in still green wood that oozes as it bears your weight, was too still, too much part of the world of man. I park in haste, and before common sense and memories of serial killer warnings could rear their ugly head.

I climb the ugly stile acutely aware of my ungainly lack of agility, feeling the earthen pull of my body, a lack of grace adding to every other woe. The path is woodchip with undertones of mud, but there is a smell of wild garlic. The air is cool and damp but the day has been just warm enough for it to have the true freshness of summer. Some to my left the rooks set off their harsh song immeasurably comforting in the near complete gloom. The midges are biting just a little and the pine trees – the whole face of Wicklow is bearded with pine forests – sway and rustle. I become acutely aware of the undergrowth. Majestic swirls of fern studded with heather: and plants so wild they cannot be flowers any more, they have to be herbs. The foxglove, hand in hand with ground ivy- and all of it home to the small defenceless creatures the rest of the animal world call lunch. All of it alive and stirring and growing and living and dying, with or without my attention.

On impulse I plunge off the track, like a diver parting dark waters with my arms. It is a mistake, I think frantically, after a very few minutes. Tree trunk on elbow, thorn on bare skin, insect in nostril, eyes blurring with tears, but still I push. Push frantically as midwife to my own progress. Anger rises as I struggle, tears of frustration now, hands stinging from a thousand tiny daggers; every plant in the forest having a dig.
My arms ache now, really ache. I begin to feel suffocated, that little voice of sanity in my head screaming “why are you here? This is insane!” My suffering soul makes a mental note to track down that voice and strangle it. There seems no end to this tangle of tree and bracken, and no way even of telling where I was going. I would have to turn around fight my way back. There was no point continuing, it was a failure. I had plunged, hoping that something would happen. I had closed my eyes, opened my mouth and waited to see what the gods would send me. A mouthful of midges it seemed. I would go back. I’d be better off in front of the telly with a large vodka than this.

What did you expect, the little voice of sanity chided. You’re in the middle of nowhere, plunging through undergrowth fighting with a forest. If your car isn’t on bricks in the car park by the time you get back you can count yourself lucky.

I stop and steady myself against a rough trunk, my face sweating and my breath ragged. My hair had long before escaped and made the most of its contact with nature. Shards of pine palm and baby conifers added unwonted volume while steady backcombing against a succession of branches had created a Byzantine intricacy of form. My clothes are stuck to me, stained and an odour of sweat and endeavour punctured the mask of deodorant and anti-perspirant I wear like a second skin. Being smelly ahs always been a fear of mine, body odours reviled like hairy armpits or stubby nails.

The tree trunk was strong and broad and I lay against it my legs shaking with tiredness. The darkness was almost complete now especially this far into the forest away from the track. The smells rise from the forest floor. I close my eyes but my eyelids feel like gossamer curtains: I can still see through them, see the dark greenness the shifting branches. I hear the very turning of a blade of grass. I am reaching out of my self, I feel the darkest softest caress, the world is spinning and I am laying giddy watching infinity and space whirl past. There is no sense of claustrophobia now, the warm press of the forest, the sense of being burrowed into the heart of a nest is comforting, encompassing. I realize just how far deep in I have wormed, like a child trying to return to womb. This reminds me of my grief but it is a detached thought, it is a question, it is a whisper and it is answered.

I come back to myself, blinking in surprise. Have I fallen asleep? Every knot on the rough bark is digging a separate hole in my back, I feel wring out, flattened, but not unpleasantly so: I feel the way I felt as a child after a day of adventure and play, tired to the bone but satisfied. I find my way out of the dense forest growth, not the way I came in incidentally – the forest has already closed around the traces of my battling progress inwards. It opens itself easily to me now I want to leave, and I push through to the path with relative ease.

The car is still on four wheels, the engine turns over, there is no sign of the serial killer urban legend warns haunts these mountains. I drive around for a while stopping when I see the lights of more than one house and turning away from the lights. In the end this pattern brings me to the motorway and I find myself speeding back towards the lights, down into the carpet of stars.


Friday, March 2, 2007

Virtual Betrayal

Another poem inspired by the bitchcraft of online communities. In December 2005, a group of erstwhile friends betrayed not only a those of us who were unsuspecting victims of their paranoia/conspiracy theories but they tried to destroy a project on which we had all worked.

This project was about honour and truth - an irony not lost on those of us faced with a bitter fight for its survival. Those who set out to destroy it were literally the ones who had done least to create it. A few techie types who had contributed in spurts at the beginning but pretty soon left it all to one person to do; a professional victim who had a habit of creating havoc in every group that made the mistake of allowing her to join; and a very bitter woman whose contribution from the beginning was zilch, but who was so ego-driven she considered her mere presence to be a bonus for which we should all be grateful.

Out of this morass of personalities and backstabbings, one thing managed to emerge intact (if a little sharper than previously) and that was a sense of humour. This doggerel was inspired by the sheer unrelenting shrillness and vitriol leveled at us by people so firmly in the wrong, they approached quantum wrongness! It was an exercise in lunacy, hypocrisy, lies and bullying - but it was also the occasion for a round of seriously demented poems and limericks that often reduced us to fits of laughter when we should have been in tears. It was an extraordinary experience for many reasons; but my favourite is that it reaffirmed something I long believed ie that the human condition is essentially a ridiculous one and laughing at oneself is a fundemental requirement for sanity.

It attempts to not only mock the sheer madness of attaching such importance to virtual realiy, but the false position in which we placed ourselves, by allowing it to happen. I often look back over the little lines of verse and prose we loyal few exchanged in those days, while erstwhile mates trounced our names from one end of the net to another - and it never fails to make me smile; I warm my memory with those little snippets.

Virtual betrayal

Knickers! I say rudely
Damn and Blast; and other less
printable sobriquets

They are such fools
I rant. They think it's
all real.

This is virtual betrayal;
a virtual blade between
real shoulder blades

This is cyber-hurt
although I must admit
to shedding (real) tears

I am above it all,
I do assure you
They cannot touch me.

Except - I did think of them
as friends...

But enough of that!
I won't tell
if you don't?

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Panic? No.

A poem I have very mixed feelings about. I don't consider it one of my more elegant efforts, I occasionally consider it a bad poem, but it has one merit - it was written in blood. It is pure albeit purely personal emotion, even after all these years reading it still makes me sad. It's the lament of a woman dating an alcoholic, whose unreliability was notorious. It's honest at least; although as I say it's not one I particularly admire.

Panic? No.

Panic? No.
Unease; a queasy swell of uncertainty and discontent;
heart beats faster, hard to concentrate,
fidgeting and fretting.

Panic would tighten its grip
till discomfort becomes physical pain.
This is less than that,
but bad enough.

Panic is for 3 am when no more taxis
turn off the main road past my window.
At that hour there are few excuses
left and hard enough to lie even to myself.

But a thought is left
that the next taxi will be the one
despite a dull realisation
that this is unlikely before dawn.

No, this is unease;
the cautioning voice that warns
you will be gone for this night.
Where are your promises now?

Could you really lie so falsely
(a rhetorical question, no answer necessary.)
I adopt reasonble tones even in my head -
where are you when you are supposed to meet me?

I call this rude (I mean torture)
and thoughtless(which means scourge)
ah the insincerity at the back of that
I knew, the moment you rang and warned of delays.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Some images from the weekend

Top: Storm clouds suddenly gathered reminding us it is only February after all!
Middle: view towards the Bray end of Sandymount Beach, shortly before the skies darkened and the rain fell
Bottom: Children at play in Februray Dublin weather, enjoying a Sunday afternoon.

I am not exactly the world's best photographer although a decent digital camera has provided some opportunity for me to indulge my fantasies of great ART . If you want to see some really good photos pop over to In Photos by Donncha O Caoimh


Food for the Soul

I take my inspiration where I can find it. I have never been a particularly prolific writer; to my mind churning out every piece of doggerel that occurs to you shows a lack of discrimination. I find that Imbas comes to me from a variety of sources; from personal relationships and moments of great joy or trauma. I find myself returning to small pockets of inspiration that occur throughout life, moments that stand out in the mind and soul. It may take years but those moments create and shape the imagery and word-craft of any poet - and they are rare and wonderful moments, to be jealously and appreciatively gaurded.
This weekend was for me, as an urban pagan, a rare and precious moment. A moment of Imbas, Inspiration. In the proximity of Love, and enjoying the uniquely urban setting of a Dublin beach, it crystallized in several key images the truth of urban paganism - an urban pagan is not one that dreams of being a smallholder in Donegal and who desperately tries to recreate a rural setting in the city but one who embraces the urban life, and who lives in harmony with those surrounding, sensing the nature of the beast that is the city and the energy of the people living there.
It also provided a complex layer of thought and feeling, an oasis of inspiration to which I will return some day, when the words are needed and the time is right.


Saturday, February 24, 2007


As a serious student of the occult and a rational pagan, obviously I consider Horoscopes to be a big load of hooey. And yet and yet...I find myself leafing
through the pages of the evening paper and seeking out the predictions for tomorrow. Why ? I am simply not sure. I know they are more often wrong than right. I am aware that our brains latch onto the few coincidental accuracies and ignore the rest. I know that even the most avid proponant of astrology will demand to know your time of birth to the nearest ahlf hour before atempting to cast a horoscope. But I can't help it, I feel better reading that Venus is a-coming or that mars is leaving my house of career; or that it's not my fault I rowed with everyone today - after all Mercury is in retrograde.

Scorpio is dedicated to the guilty pleasure of the mass produced newspaper and
magazine horoscope and to our endless capacity for hope. And to the startling reliability of the Scorpio horoscope - either dire warnings or coy references to "kinky sensual natures."


So it has come to this, reading the future
in small boxes of text, in the Evening Herald
seeking predictions in lines of small font
seeking patterns and clutching at worn straws

Venus, where are you? I need some love
all we Scorpios get are dire warnings and sex
Mercury in retrograde and dark strangers
and ring this number for more information

I read and sigh, at the very same time
mentally berating the fools who believe
in this easy manipulation of our hopes
and peddling of chances, coming soon, tomorrow.

And yet, and yet I still read them, still frown
if they predict a cross and tiresome day ahead;
and smile in guilty relief when they promise
love and money and letters from old friends.

And I quite like the Scorpio profile
sultry and sensual and deeply and psychic
I'd sooner be the stinger than the Virgin
or the fish or the ram, or two-faced twins

So I turn, involuntarily, to the page of print
where the letters and the stars sidle together
and glance, just glance, at the latest revelations
from the mage that is the features editor.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Friday, February 23, 2007

Driving To Tara; lessons in terror and calm

First published in the PPP Save tara Edition last year: this is a short piece writeen about tara, its meaning to me as an individual and addessing some of the sttitudes displayed in relation to the proposed motorway.

Driving To Tara; lessons in terror and calm

I go to Tara every month or so. It's a pleasant enough drive if you ignore the mad lorry drivers and the somewhat optional approach to road safety that is a feature of Irish driving. When I was a child, my parents brought me to Tara. It was one of those things we did. You see ours was a family that Went For Walks (once a 24 mile hike to the source of the Powerscourt Waterfall - by accident) and if we didn't go for walks we Went For Drives. This entailed being squashed into the back of a car with two sisters who either were not speaking to me or each other while my parents taste in music afflicted our senses hour after hour. Val Doonigan. Boxcar Willie. Trailer for sale or rent.
Child-line came along a few years too late or I would have been their best customer.

This was in the days before motorways and toll booths. It was a longish drive on pretty crap roads and we generally ended up behind a passing tractor or two en route. When we were little kids, once we arrived anywhere- Tara, Avondale, Powerscourt – we bolted from the car like rabbits emancipated from the stew pot. As preteens and teens we slouched from the car and mooched up the hill, with attitude. As young adults we simply refused to leave the house of a Sunday and thus an era of Drives in the Countryside came to an end.

As a grown-up I rediscovered Tara in my early twenties. It was accidental. A friend was learning to drive and asked me to bear her company.
She shared the common belief that an inability to change gear or stay on the correct side of the road was compensated for by having someone else in the car, even if that person couldn't themselves drive. After a very interesting and eventful trip we found ourselves at the turn-off to Tara. "Take the road to Tara" I remember screaming, solely in the hope of getting her off the main road. We jerked our way in first gear up the hill and arrived at the car park – after falling from the vehicle and kissing the ground I suggested a walk to calm our nerves and postpone the inevitable return trip. So we wandered rather glumly up the approach, clambered over the stile in the churchyard wall and through the moss covered graves in the churchyard.

From the narrow and earthly concerns of the churchyard through to the vista and spread of the Hill itself is a psychological moment . The wind – Tara is almost always freshened by a stiff breeze – hits you as you emerge from the church grounds, and the main thing you notice is sky. Tara commands a view second to none, with a limitless sky above you: the prevailing impression of each trip to the hill is dictated by this canopy of heaven; slate grey, azure blue, impossibly clear with a hot summer sun, crossed and chased with clouds that tell 100 stories as you lie on your back on the Mound of Nine of the Nine hostages…the sky and the horizon remind you of a time when your vision wasn't bounded by buildings and limitations.

I put the sense of relief and calm and welcoming to the sheer terror of our journey there: but I returned time and again and realized that Tara always has this effect. Perhaps it's just me: I don't think so though. I watch tourists thrill to the tales of their guide, feeling at last that here, here where kings dwelt and an oak temple supports the hill and bloody revolution was fought, here they have reached something of the Ireland of their dreams and imaginations.

When you wander around the hill, over to the witch thorns or up and down those impossible ramparts and earthworks and meet another fellow citizen, a little self conscious at being caught walking the spiral or meditating in the hollows, and exchange that look (half embarrassed half defiant) that says "Well, it is Tara after all" – then you realize what Tara is about. It's the place which transcends Rosary and Rattle: where everyone be they tourist and Irish, immigrant or native, finds something that reaches them: where every single moment of irish history finds some expression from the earliest settlers to the recent past. Tara is the heart of Ireland because it brings all things, all traditions and threads of irish life, to itself and has done for thousands of years.

Politics, Religion, Art, Mystery, Oppression , Invasion, Revolution, Oppression, Freedom – the great stock characters of a nation's history stalk the stage at Tara. It is possible to tell Ireland's story in microcosm through Tara and impossible to tell Ireland's story without Tara.
But what is all this in the face of "progress" or what passes for it nowadays? A new motorway threatens the archaeology of the Skryne Valley and Tara, and is set to inflict noise and light pollution at the least on the Hill itself. Oppose this road and you will feel the fury of the outraged "average citizen" who having moved to housing estates in Meath to escape Dublin house prices find themselves in dire need of faster transport into work in the capital. Oppose this road and, I am told, I shall be personally responsible for keeping mother and child, father and family apart; forcing parents to rise at five am to make a 9 o'clock start in the city centre; ensuring a generation grows up sans supervision and probably psychotic through lack of parental interaction; and not least I shall be a crank and a Luddite.

Actually as a hard worker and a Dubliner myself I naturally feel a great deal of sympathy for the poor sods buying homes in the sticks because Dubliners have been priced out of Dublin. However if I were them I would have checked a few things like infrastructure first: and I would blame the greedy developers and the county council and the planners and the government who ignored the lack of sufficient infrastructure when allowing over development and overbuilding in what was an essentially agricultural area. Nor and I am aware how harsh this sound… nor did I ask them to have kids. I'm sorry but other people's lack of thought and planning is threatening one of our most precious national sites. When anyone protests we're called cranks and those in favour of this unnecessary and badly thought-out road bleat "what about the poor families?"
Well what about them?

Well if I were them I would put the blame firmly on the heads of those responsible, and try to think a little beyond the obvious. What about these families? Think of the children? Well if anyone was really thinking of the children they would have opted for railroad over the gross environmental and cultural fallout of yet another road. They might have thought they would like their children to grow up in something other than a glorified car park, breathing something approximating fresh air.

And should the rest of the country and the world, because Tara and the archaeology involved has meaning and importance for the whole world, be held over a barrel to satisfy the short term wants of a minority?

Tara has 'til now always brought me peace: I leave feeling recharged, refreshed; once more aware of the core and the centre of myself. But now when I think of Tara I feel anger. Rage. Outrage. I am sick of hearing smug politicians dismiss the protests of thousands of people, hearing them imply that somehow an involvement with and care for our past makes us ridiculous. Outrage at hearing a community beg, and plead for the means of destruction of its environment and heritage, to get into work a few minutes earlier.

In the end the big boys may win, but we owe it to ourselves, and to Tara and to our history and to the environment and the future, not to give in without a fight. We also owe it to our future to provoke the discussion, how many more roads do we actually need? How many people have to die on main roads, speeding under the false illusion of safety, before we rethink our transport plans? Why are other plans, like railways and alternate routes dismissed out of hand. There are a myriad of small battles to be won on the road to saving Tara, and each of them need to be fought, for all our sakes.

So when they call you a crank, smile sweetly and say "I'd sooner be a crank than a selfish shortsighted slave to instant gratification."
If you can manage a "yah boo" as well, so much the better.

Copyright Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


Don Miguel Da Capo

Everyone knows a Don Miguel. he is the One Most Likely to Become a Rock Star who never quite made it. He is the big fish in a small town, still holding court in his forties to a crowd that is half-admiring, half-jeering; still the class joker, still the clown and the only one in his group to still think in terms of what is "cool" and "not cool."
Or he is the one with complete delusions of granduer. The one who learns to play all the cool songs but plays them like a nerd. Whatever he wears, whatever he does he looks slightly ridiculous. But in his head he is irresistable.
In his equally weedy peers, self-deprecation and good nature overcome the opposite sex's unaccountable prejudice in favour of muscles. In a Don Miguel, resentment grows as women fail to fall at his feet. It is this later incarnation of Don Miguel that inspired this poem, although his alter ego above is just as common and just as annoying..


He plays guitar.

Strumming chords, and humming to himself.
And when he wants to seduce,
draws out a few bars in the classical style,
and thinks he sounds like a Grandee
of the court of Philip of Spain.

He stretches out his legs
in faded jeans, and hikes the collar of his fleece
He is Don Miguel da Capo, brave and suave
and above all,
and no woman as yet
has managed to resist his charm.

He plays guitar.

Half hidden in the corner of a room:
A fixture at our parties.
He never plays loud enough to hear
His humming is a strangled whisper
And no women to my knowledge yet has swooned
Or begged our Mick to play her one more encore.

Yet he remains sanguine,
For he is Don Miguel da Capo,
and all must see the grandeur of this man.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne